Organizations are rushing to leverage Internet of Things solutions but struggle to design the information technology architectures that will lock down the data these devices create.

Bill Kleyman, Executive Vice President of Digital Solutions, Switch; Writer/Speaker

April 24, 2018

5 Min Read

When we think of the Internet of Things, most people usually fall back to the kinds of devices they're familiar with, such as a Nest thermostat or a Philips Hue smart light. However, today IoT components are finding their way, at lightning speed, into places such as healthcare, the enterprise, and certainly the data center.

Let me give you a specific example. Raritan recently came out with a line of "smart racks" that take environmental monitoring to the next level. These data center–ready IoT technologies are tested to withstand billions of hours of runtime in the world's most data-intensive environments. One of those IoT components are environmental sensors located throughout the rack. From there, they help isolate hot spots, optimize cooling, prevent downtime, and even maintain security through integration with smart locks. Furthermore, these IoT devices gather data, which then feeds into a data center infrastructure management platform, allowing data center and business leaders to make better decisions.

At UPS, IoT sensors help protect the environment by monitoring delivery truck mileage, speed, and overall engine health. Coupled with big data solutions, UPS is also able to effectively monitor packages and optimize entire routes. And, fairly recently, Microsoft and Rolls-Royce collaborated on advanced operational intelligence to airlines. This is similar to what GE is doing with its jet engines. The benefit? Ground crew technicians can identify wear and tear on specific components before the airplane even lands. From there, they can have repair and parts teams ready to cut maintenance windows down dramatically.

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By the numbers, according to IDC, the IoT market is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, with an expected size of $1.4 trillion in 2021. However, when it comes to enterprise adoption of IoT devices, there are concerns. How do you design the right IoT use case? Can it mesh with your existing network and data center systems? Most of all, what about security: How do you process and protect data such as personal identifiable information or personal healthcare information? Organizations want to leverage IoT solutions but are struggling to understand how to design the right architectures and, most importantly, how to leverage and quantify the data that these devices create.

IoT Meet Edge Computing
There is no doubt that data center and business leaders are actively investing in IoT solutions. In the latest AFCOM (Association for Computer Operations Management) State of the Data Center Industry study, a report I helped co-author, we found that 81% of respondents view the primary purpose for expanding edge compute capacity is to support and enable IoT; four in 10 respondents already have either deployed or plan to deploy edge computing. Why this is important is because the goal of edge computing is to process data and services as close to the end user or source as possible. IoT pretty much fits this use case exactly.

In the modern enterprise organization, it's critical for leaders and IT professionals to both conceptualize IoT components and how they can apply these concepts to their own organization. This is an architectural and business exploratory process to really understand where connected devices can bring value to the business. Whether it's connected trucks or enhanced engines, your approach to connecting a part of your organization into the digital realm will be unique.

A lot of times, enterprises think that a connecting device has to be something new. However, in many situations, we're digitally transforming analog systems. For example, by fitting their massive cranes with IoT sensors, a construction company would be able find faults in seconds rather than troubleshooting for hours. To that extent, which analog systems do you have in your IT infrastructure that could be digitized? Where are the data points that you'd like to gather or learn more about? For many organizations, these are potentially big benefits and all part of the IoT revolution. But to really understand the possibilities of enterprise IoT, you will need to take a multifaceted approach:

  • Evolution of the edge. It's critical to understand that edge solutions help deliver and process data much close to the user. And, when it comes to IoT, edge is a major enabler.

  • IoT security based on context. IoT security is never linear. The best security models will always take a contextual approach to device access and interrogation.

  • The "smart" data center. Your data center is becoming much smarter. From bots to intelligent racks, these are all IoT devices that need security and efficiency.

  • Hacking as an economy. The bad guys have made an industry out of hacking and have economized the process. It's critical to know how much your data is worth on the Dark Web and why considerations around IoT are key to good security best practices.

  • Key factors in designing and IoT security strategy. Combining edge, the components of IoT, business use cases, and a good overall security strategy are the keys to designing a secure IoT architecture. Beyond that, ensuring data security will be a top priority.

Not only must we continue to educate around IoT, it will be up to the leaders and innovators to find good use cases and proper designs.

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About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Executive Vice President of Digital Solutions, Switch; Writer/Speaker


Bill Kleyman brings more than 15 years of experience to his role as Executive Vice President of Digital Solutions at Switch. Using the latest innovations, such as AI, machine learning, data center design, DevOps, cloud and advanced technologies, he delivers solutions to customers that help them achieve their business goals and remain competitive in their market. He was ranked #16 globally in the Onalytica study that reviewed the top 100 most influential individuals in the cloud landscape; and #4 in another Onalytica study that reviewed the industry's top Data Security Experts.


He enjoys writing, blogging and educating colleagues about everything related to technology. His published and referenced work can be found on WindowsITPro, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, AFCOM, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot and more.


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